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  • Writer's pictureMathieu Guerville

Automotive IP: A Market Of Limitless Potential

Ever since the infamous Selden v Ford case*, Intellectual Property has been essential to the auto industry's relentless drive for innovation.

But until the convergence of several macro-trends over the past decade, never had the industry needed to innovate quite as rapidly. Cyber security, autonomous driving, fuel cells and electric vehicles, new emissions standards, higher consumer expectations for infotainment systems... the list goes on. 

In an environment of constant innovation, it is important for auto companies to ensure the right resources, intellectual property information and strategic partnerships are in place. Patents are a great tool to measure innovation maturity in a given industry, and by that metric the automakers and their supplier are pumping out more patents that nearly every other industry save for the computing and telecom industries.

In 2014, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, announced in a blog post titled ‘all our patents belong to you.’ that the company would adopt an open source philosophy in its handling of  intellectual property in order to encourage the development of the EV industry, and address the climate change crisis. But most automakers don't give so freely; they're spending billions of dollars creating the technologies to evolve their product lines, and are rarely willing to share the spoils of their R&D labs. 

A casual look at the market and an understanding basic economics would suggest that there's little value in these patents outside of their parent companies' walls, because so little of them are licensed and generating royalties. Yet the continued R&D investment and ever accelerating new product release cycle for an industry with limited end product differentiation shows this to be untrue, value does in fact exist in all this IP that could be transferred over. So, why are automakers all re-inventing the wheel, separately in their individual labs? Is the problem really a lack of demand for technology transfer, or a discovery, access, and process issue.

Tradespace analysis shows the wealth of IP in the industry, across numerous dimensions.

Tradespace was founded to remedy the lack of functioning IP markets. We empower IP holders to find licensing partners and monetize their patent portfolios (inside or outside the auto industry) and we enable rapid discovery of existing IP for competitive analysis as well as in-licensing opportunities.

Somewhere between the open source approach of Tesla and the closed silos currently the industry's norm, billions of dollars of R&D savings, years of wasted time, and completely new avenues of revenue creation are just awaiting. Come unlock real Return on Innovation (ROI) at

* Selden patented the broad concept of an "Automobile", Henry Ford decided to fight his infringement lawsuit and ultimately won)


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